This earthy soup is made with four kinds of mushrooms, although you can vary the type. It’s rich made with beef broth, but vegetarians can use vegetable broth as well. Serves 6
5 cups water
1 lb beef femur bone
2 medium cloves garlic
2 leeks, white and light green part only.
4 stalks celery
2 large carrots, peeled
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt, to taste
1 Tb olive oil
2 lbs crimini (brown) mushrooms
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 King mushrooms
1 large bunch of oyster mushrooms
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 tsp white pepper, depending on how peppery you like your soup
3 Tbs cooking sherry
several grinds black pepper
several sprigs fresh thyme leaves to garnish.
Make beef broth: Bring the water to a boil with the beef bone. Chop leeks, celery, carrots and garlic finely and add to the water. Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms coarsely in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Add them to the vegetables along with the salt and dried thyme. Simmer for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, skim the fat off the soup. Remove the bone and blend the soup.
Bring soup to a boil. Add barley and let simmer for 20 minutes. While barley is simmering, heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean mushrooms well (I soak them several times in a salad spinner, then clean each one with a brush or paper towel.) Trim the woody ends from the crimini and shitake mushrooms then toss with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray) and roast them for 20 minutes until they are soft. While they are roasting, chop the oyster and King mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the white pepper to taste.
Add the liquid from the roasted mushroom to the soup. Cut the roasted mushrooms in quarters and slices and add them to the broth.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Correct seasonings, adding several grinds black pepper and sherry. Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms.